Following a near fatal overdose of painkillers, Daniel Fletcher is resuscitated in a Los Angeles emergency room and detained for psychiatric evaluation. Through a series of questions and tests, the psychiatrist must ascertain whether the patient intended to kill himself, or whether he can walk free. What the psychiatrist doesn’t know is that ‘Daniel Fletcher’ is actually John – Johnny – Dolan Vincent, a brilliant young forger who continually changes his identity to save himself from a lifetime of incarceration. Johnny has done such assessments before – many, many times.
As he creates an elaborate bluff for the evaluator, Johnny reveals the true story of his traumatic past – a broken family, descent into the sinister world of forgers and criminals, and his one chance of salvation in the beautiful and elusive Molly. But time is running out; as his underworld clients lose patience and the psychiatrist’s net closes around him, Johnny has to negotiate the escape act of his life.
Evoking the boulevards and strip bars of 1980s LA with cinematic intensity, The Contortionist’s Handbook is a darkly hypnotic and stunningly original debut.
Reviews of The Contortionistu2019s Handbook
- ‘A dazzling and highly original debut novel which instantly establishes its author as one of the most interesting writers to emerge in years. This book deserves to be massive and I think it will be’ Irvine Welsh
- ‘Craig Clevenger has crafted an unforgettable antihero in John Dolan Vincent. This is an extraordinary debut’ Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Darko
- ‘What sticks out about this remarkable debut are its pitch-perfect shock ending and John Vincent himself – his complex, conflicting mind, original voice and unnervingly self-defeating existence’ Time Out
- ‘A very impressive debut. The reader sees it from the con-artist’s perspective, delivered in a snappy, first-person voice that Clevenger writes with assured flair. This is a tightly controlled piece of work with an intriguingly original approach to the genre that marks the author out as one to watch’ Metro
- ‘Clevenger has created a manic monologist whose paranoia-inducing world pulls you in completely’ Seattle Times
- ‘Clevenger’s talent is revealed in his ability to create a true testament to the resilience of the human spirit’ USA Today
- ‘Immaculately detailed and emotionally explosive: this is rolling, riveting stuff’ Kirkus Reviews [starred]